Blockchain Metaverses: The Basics


Metaverse is the new tech trend everyone is excited about. One can describe it as a virtual world or a cyberspace. This new type of digital space can be accessed via AR, VR, and even PC. Metaverse is not an independent technology, but more of a new method of interacting with technology.

Games like Fortnite or World of Warcraft with their developed in-game economies resemble metaverses, but only partially. A metaverse, in the proper sense of the word, suggests that you can take your online identity with its avatars, assets, and other possessions and move them elsewhere, without sticking to a single platform.

The synergy of blockchain, crypto, VR, and other sophisticated technologies help expand the possibilities of metaverse-like environments. 

Blockchain Metaverses and Their Economies

A crypto Metaverse is powered by blockchain tech and integrates cryptocurrency assets into the core of its economy. Users can buy, sell, and exchange all sorts of digital goods from avatars to property, using different metaverse tokens. 

For example, non-fungible tokens represent ownership rights and assign them to wallet addresses of the owners while blockchain keeps track of it. And then there are governance tokens that allow communities to control and regulate the main processes happening in the virtual world and coordinate collective decision-making. 

Every metaverse features its own unique economy. Axie Infinity, one of the crypto gaming pioneers, turned into an independent universe with a set of rules, allocation of roles and duties. It features a massive marketplace and, apart from NFTs, two types of tokens that make an efficient and profitable ecosystem.

Marketplaces are at the head of metaverse economies. Acting as closed systems, their value depends on their internal assets. Market adjustment in this case is achieved by the shortage of resources.

Rates of metaverse resources can vary from their rates at the external market. It is possible to engross the entire supply of a certain resource and create a market shortage, raising its price significantly. At the same time, the external market won’t be affected by it whatsoever.

Every blockchain metaverse has its own core idea that guides its entire existence. The storyline, the purpose, and ideology determine the economic structure and the use of the resources. However, the highest value of every Metaverse lies in its community that supports the economy.

Every metaverse, no matter how unique it is, exhibits similar features like the ability to own assets, a set of rules, property interoperability, and an independent economy. Blockchain metaverses are decentralized and controlled by users, not corporations. The asset ownership rights are shared between participants. On top of that, the users can take part in metaverse governance.

Metaverse Token Market

The metaverse token market is still in its infancy and currently amounts to $38 billion. However,  some projects like  Decentraland (MANA), Axie Infinity (AXS), The Sandbox (SAND), Enjin (ENJ), GALA, Wax (WAXP) currently generate most of its value. Moreover, it is only fair to conclude that the main niche and use case of the modern metaverse token market is in gaming.

Token growth has shown quite a span, ranging between 200% and over 20,000%. Volatility is very typical for any crypto asset, and metaverse tokens are no exception. One of the most expensive tokens in the space, NFTs not included, stays at a $1,900 mark, and the majority of other assets cost somewhere from a couple to a couple of hundreds of dollars. 

Since blockchain metaverses provide both entertainment and the ability to make extra money, they are often considered investment opportunities. In the future, as the underlying infrastructure grows and metaverses start interacting with each other, backed by an extended functionality of social media and crypto assets, the value of the investment might grow exponentially. 

In case you decide to invest in metaverse tokens, HitBTC offers a few to choose from. 

Read more about Game Tokens

Сrypto wallet App

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App on Android and iOS.

Fees and Limits update

We have recently updated our fees and limits. For the latest updates, please visit the fees and limits section on our website here. 

HitBTC Mobile App

Don’t forget that you can trade on our platform from your mobile device. Start today by downloading the HitBTC App on Android and iOS.

November 2021 Digest

November 2021 Digest

HitBTC experts have prepared a short digest informing you of the main news that has taken place recently in the crypto market and on the HitBTC platform!

Cryptocurrency Market

BTC closed in the red 7%

ETH showed stability and closed the month +0.10%

– GameFi tokens have reached new highs in November: 

      Axie Infinity (AXS) is a blockchain-based trading and battling game that is partially owned and operated by its players.

      Decentraland (MANA) defines itself as a virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain that allows users to create, experience, and monetize content and applications.

      Enjin Coin (ENJ) is a project of Enjin, a company that provides an ecosystem of interconnected, blockchain-based gaming products.

      Gala (GALA) is an Ethereum token that powers Gala Games, a platform for blockchain gaming.

      luvium (ILV) is an open-world fantasy battle game built on the Ethereum blockchain. 

      Mobox (MBOX) is the native utility token that is used for processing transactions through the NFT gaming platform and staking for platform bonuses and incentives.

      Sandbox (SAND) is a blockchain-based virtual world allowing users to create, build, buy and sell digital assets in the form of a game.

      Starlink (STARL) is the key to STARL Metaverse: 100% unlocked, renounced, and community-driven.

      Alien Worlds (TLM) is a decentralized, non-fungible token (NFT) metaverse, where players compete for scarce resources, Trilium (TLM), in a stimulated economy centered around planetary worlds.

      WAX (WAXP) is a purpose-built blockchain, released in 2017, that is designed to make e-commerce transactions faster, simpler and safer for every party involved. 

      Ultra (UOS) is serves a variety of purposes within the Ultra platform, both at the protocol (staking) and at the app level (transactions).

      Yield Guild Games (YGG) is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that invests in virtual world non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

What’s new on HitBTC:

We have also increased the leverage for these perpetual futures trading assets:

$BTC – 100x

$ETH – 75x

$ADA – 75x

$SOL – 75x

Trade Perpetual Futures now

We have added the Xanpool payments gateway to our trading platform and payments gateway to our trading platform and users in Asia can buy and sell crypto using SGD, MYR, HKD, VND, INR, PHP, THB and KRW.

  • New tokens are here:

ALCX (Alchemix) is the governance token for the self-paying loan protocol Alchemix.

ALPACA (Alpaca Finance) is the lending protocol allowing leveraged yield farming on Binance Smart Chain. 

BNX (BinaryX) is the governance token for Cyber Dragon, a Play to Earn Game based on Binance Smart Chain.

BTCBAM (Bitcoin BAM) is based on the UTXO model, it adopts the consensus mechanism of PoS and is a public blockchain.

CITY (Manchester United Fan Token) – Official Manchester City F.C. Fan Token.

DAR (Miners of Dalarnia) – The DAR token is the official token in Mines of Dalarnia and represents the game’s governance. 

ENS (Ethereum Name Service) is an open, public, decentralized identity protocol that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. 

JASMY (JasmyCoin) is the governance token for the Jasmy platform, designed to protect individual data sovereignty by blending IoT technology with blockchain.

LTNM (Bitcoin Latinum) is a bitcoin hard fork, which aims to pick up where Bitcoin’s idea of being bankless and peer-to-peer electronic cash system left off.

MIMO (Parallel Protocol) is the governance token of the Mimo DeFi platform that allows its users to enjoy liquidity from their crypto assets without selling them.

MOVR (Moonriver) is an Ethereum-compatible, smart-contract parachain on Kusama. It is intended to be a companion network to Moonbeam, where it will provide a permanently incentivized canary network.

PAR (Parallel) is a decentralized, collateral-backed synthetic asset algorithmically stabilized to the Euro currency. 

PLI (Plugin) is a decentralized Oracle Platform that provides cost effective solutions to any smart contract which runs on XinFin XDC Network Eco System. 

REQ (Request) is a utility token that ensures the performance and stability of the Request Network, a payment solution that works with all global currencies. 

SKP (Skyswapp Protocol) is a decentralized payment asset, intended to promote the use of Digital Assets and Blockchain-based technologies in the aviation, hospitality, and gaming industries.

SRX (StorjX Token) – StorX is a decentralized cloud storage network, which empowers users to store their data securely in the cloud.

STARL (Starlink) is the key to STARL Metaverse: 100% unlocked, renounced, and community-driven.

SUKU (SUKU)  is an ecosystem of purpose-driven lenders who provide microfinance opportunities to disenfranchised supply chain participants.

TONCOIN (Toncoin) is a blockchain-based ecosystem intended to give rise to a genuine Web3.0 Internet with decentralized storage, anonymous network, DNS and instant payments.

TRIBE (Tribe) is the governance token for the FEI algorithmic stablecoin, a new decentralized solution to the stablecoin market. 

UOS (Ultra) serves a variety of purposes within the Ultra platform, a blockchain-based, PC game distribution platform designed to provide both gamers and game developers with new opportunities.

USNOTA (USNOTA) is a multiplatform decentralized service used to confirm the existence of digital events such as electronic correspondences, images, and videos.

UST (Terra USD) is the decentralized and algorithmic stablecoin of the Terra blockchain. It is a scalable, yield-bearing coin that is value-pegged to the US Dollar. 

  • HIT Token Burn

In November we burned a total of 41,611,359 HIT tokens (about 15.4 million USDT).

Useful links:

Сrypto wallet App

The HitBTC crypto wallet is a free and simple solution for beginners.

App on Android and iOS.

Fees and Limits update

We have recently updated our fees and limits. For the latest updates, please visit the fees and limits section on our website here.

HitBTC Mobile App

Don’t forget that you can trade on our platform from your mobile device. Start today by downloading the HitBTC App on Android and iOS.

Long and Short Positions in Crypto Trading

Long and short positions are the two basic terms every trader learns at the very beginning of their trading journey. Going long is to own the asset and expect the price to increase, while shorting is waiting for the price to go down and buy back the asset at a better price to make a profit

Unlike other assets, cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, and that can work in the trader’s favor whenever they succeed in deriving profits from price fluctuations. Regardless of what trading style or strategy you’re choosing, understanding core concepts like short and long trades is a must.

Short and Long Terms Basics

In the middle of the XIX century, the terms came into general use in the US stock and commodities market. When the first crypto markets started making their appearances, short and term positions quickly became a part of the trading slang as well.

Bull traders expect the price to rise and hence hold long positions while  bears expect the price to go down, so they sell the asset, to buy it back at a better price. Now, let’s look into what this means in practice. 

In a long position, traders assume that the asset price will rise from a current point. Thus, the trader chooses to “go long” and buys the coins. At the same time, in a short position, the trader thinks the price will now start falling and “goes short”, selling the digital assets.

Long Positions Action Plan

When going long, traders use a universal profit-making strategy of buying cheaper and selling more expensive. This behavior is often typical for beginners.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Analyze the market, find an asset that is most likely to go in price in the near future, and buy it;
  • Wait until the price starts rising. Sometimes, it might take a while;
  • Sell the asset and enjoy the profit.

The trickiest part is to sell the asset on time. Considering it is not easy to predict when the price stops rising, chasing the highest price may be a losing game. If you lose the opportunity to sell for profit, you have a couple of options: One is to absorb the losses and sell their assets. Another is to wait until the price rises again.

It’s worth noting that long trades are very common and can be executed on any exchange. 

Short Positions Action Plan

When traders go short, technically, they sell the assets they do not own yet to buy it later at a lower price. Fundamentally, the short trades concept implies that the assets have to be borrowed before selling.

That’s your basic action plan when going short:

  • Analyze the market and look for the coins that might go down in price
  • Loan them from the exchange and sell them instantly
  • When the price falls, buy back the coins you sold and pay back the exchange

Short trades are not universally available, and you need to make sure your exchange is offering this service. HitBTC is one of the few exchanges that features margin trading, allowing traders to go short. 

Margin Trading

Margin trading enables traders to open short and long positions, considering they provide collateral. The collateral is a funds deposit that serves as a guarantee that the debt will be repaid. Margin trading is similar to credit leverage and practically increases a trader’s deposit by using a loan. In crypto, the coefficient may vary drastically, from 2:1 to 100:1 and higher.

Suppose everything goes according to the trader’s plan. In that case, their profit will increase proportionally to the leverage, and when the position is closed, the collateral and the fees will be paid back. Also, the remaining amount (trader’s actual profit) is deposited into the user’s account. 

If a trader’s predictions are wrong, and the asset goes in the opposite direction than the trader predicted, the exchange will liquidate positions and repay the borrowed funds to the trader once the asset price matches the loan amount. Before the liquidation, the trader will receive a margin call, meaning a request for more collateral in order to avoid complete liquidation of the position.

Moreover, traders are free to close the unsuccessful trade themselves at any period before the liquidation without losing the entire position but only a part of it. 

Longing and Shorting Crypto via Margin Trading

Longing crypto can be done by buying Bitcoin on the exchanges and selling it when the value rises. However, a more advanced and profitable way to long crypto is to use margin trading on exchanges like HitBTC. 

When longing via margin trading, one will have to put up collateral to borrow money and use it to purchase more crypto. The advantage of margin trading for long trades is that they can be exceptionally profitable, however, it does come with a certain risk.

As for shorting crypto, margin trading is the easiest and most widely-used way to do it. Benefiting from both rising and falling prices makes shorting a more flexible strategy. 

Advanced trading strategy

When trading in volatile and high risk financial assets such as crypto, you may choose to hedge, or in other words protect your portfolio from losing value, by using techniques that lessen the impact of unpredictable negative events.

If you are long on a crypto asset, and you believe that the long term value will increase, however, you analyse the market and see that there is a potential fall in price in the near future, you may use margin trading, and short the same asset using leverage. If you expect a 5-10% price decline it is a reasonable hedging strategy to short 5% of your position, so that in case the price goes down, you have some protection for the losses, and if the price continues the bullish upwards trend, you benefit as your overall position is long on the stock.

Furthermore you can protect your position by using limit orders to buy or sell at certain prices, which may often be a safer option as it executes commands with machine-like speed, and can operate when you are away from the terminal. You can read more about such orders here.

Final Thoughts

You have to keep in mind that trading is a high-risk activity. As a trader, you need to try minimizing risks while making sure you still get your profit. 

The idea of going long is in essence buying an asset expecting it to go higher in value so potential profit is unlimited when opening long positions, but you cannot lose more than you initially invested. For instance, $50 worth of coins can potentially end up being worth $50,000 if the token price goes up drastically. Meanwhile, if the price drops, you won’t lose more than $50. Those who look for higher profits can also use margin trading to go long in crypto. Using Short trading has a similar underlying mechanism, and you cannot lose more than you initially invested.

Overall finding the optimal trading strategy that is most suitable for you comes down to market analysis and personal risk tolerance. Do your own market research and choose the instruments that suit your trading profile the most. 

Сrypto wallet App

The HitBTC crypto wallet is a free and simple solution for beginners.

App on Android and iOS.

Fees and Limits update

We have recently updated our fees and limits. For the latest updates, please visit the fees and limits section on our website here. 

HitBTC Mobile App

Don’t forget that you can trade on our platform from your mobile device. Start today by downloading the HitBTC App on Android and iOS.

All You Need to Know About Perpetual Crypto Futures

Perpetual Futures

Having launched in 2017, crypto futures are still a relatively new product on the market. In a trader’s portfolio, they can help manage risks, balance price fluctuations, or serve as an additional tool for gaining profit. Besides, crypto futures would also work for those who don’t particularly want to deal with digital assets directly, as they are often cash-settled.

Initially, Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) were the first two marketplaces that allowed its users to trade Bitcoin futures. At the moment, a wide range of platforms allows buying and selling Bitcoin futures, and some have also launched Ethereum futures trade.

What Crypto Futures Are and How They Work
Crypto futures are financial tools that allow traders and investors to buy and sell a specific amount of digital assets, namely Bitcoin and Ethereum, on a specific date at a particular price. When this date comes, the person who purchased a futures contract should seal the deal, regardless of the asset’s current price.

Let’s say it’s June 1, and you’re entering an agreement to buy BTC on September 30 for $25,000. When the time comes, even if Bitcoin’s market price is $40,000, the counterparty is required to sell it for the pre-agreed price. Alternatively, a trader can agree to sell a certain amount of coins for the pre-agreed price.

Long position stands for the process of buying an asset at X price on Y date.
Short position stands for the process of selling an asset at X price on Y date.

While some investors use futures for price speculation, others focus on locking in the asset’s price and protecting themselves against volatility.

Perpetual Futures

Unlike classic futures that have an expiration date, perpetual futures can be held by traders indefinitely. A funding mechanism helps with linking the price of the contract to the base asset price. The mechanism sets the funding interest rate based on two factors: premium index and interest rate

Price is higher than the base asset price
If the futures price surpasses the base asset price, traders who entered long positions pay a percentage, while short positions’ traders receive the equivalent of this percentage. The purpose of this mechanism is to encourage traders to close and open positions less frequently, so the futures price won’t be constantly increasing. Moreover, traders will potentially focus on less profitable short positions to cover the losses.

Price is lower than the base asset price
If the futures price ends up being higher than the base asset price, the opposite happens: traders in short positions are the ones to pay the funding and long positions’ traders get the profit. This way, traders will buy more and sell less, moving the price to the base asset price.

How to Start Trading Perpetual Crypto Futures
What is the difference between futures trading and regular cryptocurrency trading? First, with crypto futures, you don’t necessarily need to deal with crypto whatsoever. All the settlements are done with cash. However, it does depend on which platform you are using for trading. Secondly, as opposed to cryptocurrency trading that only offers a single way to make a profit, Bitcoin futures are slightly more diverse.

Basically, when you expect Bitcoin price to go up, you go long or buy a futures contract. And also, the other way around, when you expect that Bitcoin price is going to fall, you go short or sell the futures contract.

You can use futures for hedging and risk management, as well as leverage your positions, depending on the exchange.

On HitBTC, users can buy or sell perpetual futures contracts. Before trading, you should deposit currency on the Derivatives account: open the Account page, press Transfer, select an account to transfer From (Spot or Wallet), and select the Derivatives account in the To drop-down menu. Enter the desired amount of collateral (margin) and press the Transfer button

Transfer Derivatives

To open a position, you can open the Derivatives page and make sure you’ve got USDT or other crypto on your account.

Here are a few further steps you need to take:
1. Go to the Futures tab, all available contracts are visible in the Contracts widget
2. Assign the currency amount, which will act as the collateral for this contract
3. Create a Long or Short order
4. The newly created contract is now visible in the My orders and trades widget

Futures contracts are settled daily so that your profits or loss is deducted or added to your balance at the end of each day. There is no commission to maintain the futures position, only the fixed taker (0.05%) and maker (0.02%) fees.

The user can place both the margin (on the Margin tab) and futures (on the Futures tab) positions. These are two different markets. Each instrument uses an isolated margin. Isolated Margin mode allows traders to manage their risks. If a trader’s position is liquidated in Isolated Margin mode, instead of their entire margin balance, only the Isolated Margin balance gets liquidated – unlike the Cross Margin mode, where the entire margin balance is shared across open positions to avoid liquidation. Our platform futures do not use Cross Margin.

Exiting Tips
Another thing you need to know before jumping into the world of futures trading is that it is possible to exit your contract.

There are two ways to do so: offsetting, and rollovers.
One of the most popular ways to exit a contract is offsetting – the process of entering another futures contract that features the same size and value. This way, the current obligations reset to zero and balance out.
Alternatively, one can practice rollovers, which is the same as offsetting, only with an extended contract end date.

Additional info

  • You can trade several Bitcoin futures contracts at a time
  • Experienced traders with a larger portfolio can hedge the risk of price fluctuations by entering the contract with an opposite position
  • Bitcoin futures and stocks trading is not too similar, so previous experience with stock trading will not necessarily be helpful

Closing Thoughts
Trading cryptocurrency futures requires specific market behavior knowledge, following news and predictions, and staying self-aware. However, for experienced traders and investors, crypto futures can help balance their portfolio, lower risks, and in the best-case scenario, make a profit. Moreover, crypto futures add liquidity and attract more institutional investors to the market.

CEO Josh Smith talks about CureCoin, the latest edition to the HitBTC platform, and the race to end COVID-19

For this interview we conducted in honor of CureCoin joining the HitBTC ecosystem we talked with CureCoin’s CEO, Josh Smith. Smith developed CureCoin as an offshoot of Folding@home, a non-profit project that simulates protein behavior with users’ computing power. CureCoin has incentivized the process of protein simulation, hoping to thereby draw in more users and boost the research process.

Normally, CureCoin and Folding@home distribute computing power to research efforts into various degenerative diseases. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CureCoin has prioritized research into the novel coronavirus in order to expedite the process of finding a cure.

We at HitBTC are pleased to welcome CureCoin to the community and hope our users find the interview with Josh informative. Additionally, if you haven’t yet, check out our fascinating first interview with a bioinformatics researcher contributing to the CureCoin project. For other projects looking to apply for support via our COVID-19 initiative, please check out our previous blog post. The deadline for applications runs through May 1.

HitBTC: You launched Curecoin in 2014 with the intention of supporting Folding@home’s computing research on protein misfolding diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. Over the years your initiative has demonstrated an impressive use of blockchain technology in the real-world, encouraging everyday people to donate their computing power for further medical development. How did you come up with the idea of creating an altcoin with such a significant practical purpose? Was it your first project in the realm of blockchain science?

Josh Smith: The idea arrived back in 2012 while mining bitcoin was becoming an involved personal hobby for me. I was particularly interested in the parallel processing power being employed by GPU’s, and that is when I set out to see what else was taking advantage of this power. When I discovered folding@home, I knew I had found myself another great new hobby that I could really enjoy and began folding immediately. Back then there was a bit of an imbalance between the AMD and Nvidia cards being that Nvidia cards could fold much more efficiently than AMD. At first I started posting bounties on bitcointalk where I was offering small amounts of random cryptocurrency in exchange for people joining my team and folding. This system quickly started to evolve into more and the vision to create the world’s most powerful folding team was born. This was my first real project of any large substance in the blockchain world.

H: Why did you decide to become a part of the Folding@home project? Did you foresee its huge potential in combating debilitating disorders?

JS: Unlike some other Distributed Computing Network (DCN) projects related to protein folding, Folding@home deals directly with drug discovery and exploring intermediate states of proteins (in healthy cells and in those that are stressed by disease). While other projects are important, for example Folding@home builds on the work done by Rosetta@home (which primarily aims to find a final ‘conformational state’ of these proteins, Folding@home, given a large enough scale of participation, can explore potential drug targets with the highest level of efficiency (especially since they can utilize the power of both modern CPUs and GPUs to do the work). Modern GPUs also happened to be the number one source of hashing power in the cryptocurrency community mining scrypt (like Litecoin). As their equipment obsolesced for mining, we thought Folding@home with Curecoin would be the perfect transition for those considering selling their used equipment to gamers. Incidentally, Curecoin’s mission is to add other biotechnology related DCN’s when the time and resources make that appropriate. Supporting multiple DCN platforms concurrently requires a lot of resources, since we not only have to deal with supporting our blockchain, but also we find ourselves supporting team members setting up their research software (which differs from DCN to DCN).

H: Folding@home is now considered to be one of the world’s most widely distributed and fastest computing systems with a speed of approximately 1.18 exaFLOPS, or 2.36 x86 exaFLOPS, allowing it to fold several proteins in the 1.5 millisecond time range. What’s been the role of CureCoin in achieving this level of performance? What was the most challenging aspect of implementing blockchain technology into various biological computations?

JS: Actually, Folding@home’s record of stability, security, and openness, and with the initial help of advisors we leveraged to help us access the legacy point reward system without straining their servers, made wrapping a blockchain reward system around their legacy Point Reward system relatively straight-forward. Since we rely on a trusted oracle, in the form of cryptobullionpools (Curecoin’s version of a cryptocurrency mining pool), and stats delivered securely from the Folding@home consortium (publically available) to our servers, we’ve been able to translate the legacy points reward system, into a blockchain with a controlled supply. With the help of over 30,000 registered participants (5,000 active at any one time currently), we’ve been able to generate over 1.1 Trillion points on Folding@home’s system (which have been translated into rewards on our blockchain). This has far exceeded the performance of any team in Folding@home’s history over the long term. There are teams that have been spurred into rapid response with the latest coronavirus crisis affecting all of us, but we’re confident those new participants will take a look at our system more closely in the next few weeks and months. It makes us wonder why the big players in the tech world (many of whom we’ve reached out to) were not really pushing Folding@home to help research Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Influenza, HIV and Ebola over the past 20 years.

H: What novel methods do Folding@home researchers utilize to statistically analyse the dynamics of protein folding? Are there other cases that you see where projects can be modernized with the help of blockchain technologies in order to make the best use of their networks?

JS: It should be noted, the research is largely exploratory, and weighted towards academics; thus the 220 published papers based on the project to date have been referenced in more than 3,600 other studies, some related to AI, neural networks, and big data analytics (not just drug discovery). [Markov modeling provides a robust understanding of specific clusters within proteins that are grouped in certain strains, mutations, or any specific characteristic that could be unknown]. All research results are open-sourced, and available upon request from the consortium. Even negative results are good, since they can help to keep other researchers from “re-inventing the wheel”.

DCN contributions by individuals and companies are a personal choice. Whether you decide to contribute anonymously as an altruist, or create your own team, fold with an existing one, or join our team doing something truly unique (to support your power consumption, equipment maintenance, and building a science-based digital economy that we’ve named “Epistemic Currency”. We define this as “Using work to generate scientific data and knowledge as a commodity”. Blockchain organizations could have a greater impact on DCN related research if DCN’s could digitally sign certificates of completion for participants, adding a level of security and decentralization to the Proof-of-Work alternative we demonstrate. Because some consider contributions of computational power at purely philanthropic levels, getting policy changes at DCN’s to help blockchain endeavors have proven to be challenging so far.

H: Recently, the Curecoin team has managed to generate 1 trillion cumulative points on Folding@home’s network, which is an unprecedented result. Why, do you suppose, your initiative has turned into such an attractive cause for crypto philanthropists?

JS: A virtuous circle is created by the forming of the combination of a desire by individuals to help humanity by protein folding… and the hope to make some money as well, or philanthropic giving. Let’s look at a direct comparison of most teams in the Folding@home network to those teams with crypto currencies being rewarded, such as Curecoin.

The typical team does have the team camaraderie and the joy of doing the needed protein folding work. These team performances are driven by people who have multiple talents, namely, computer expertise, very modern fast GPUs, and the ability to pay for electricity on a long-term basis without compensation.

In contrast, those teams that issue a successful crypto currency for protein folding are also able to attract buyers of the currency. End users of a currency utilise it or buy it speculatively with hopes of a price rise in the future, or with the knowledge that purchasing and holding Curecoins is a form of philanthropic giving. These outside users buy the currency from the Curecoin team folders, thus partially or completely offsetting the cost of electricity and/or the price of GPUs. This enables a greater number of people to fold for the team, at more points per day by any given folder. Thus, we count as team members those who use and buy the currency, not only those who fold. People who can afford to buy Curecoins, or take Curecoins in payment for items either directly, or on their website using, but don’t have the interest to develop high-end computer folding systems, are just as important as people who fold. The efficiency is very high, because efficient folders spend effort folding, while efficient workers in other fields work at their specialty, and will potentially receive Curecoins for their work or buy them for philanthropic or usage purposes. Creating a robust network of non-profits, merchants and workers who accept Curecoin payments is certainly one of our intermediate-term goals. This is the full-circle mission: to create direct payments, and to benefit humanity’s basic research in the sciences in the process.

H: Considering the growing awareness of the project and its unique merged mining concept, how do you see the future of Curecoin?

JS: Curecoin retired the version 1.0 merge-mining concept in 2018 (80% to folders, and 20% split between SHA-256 miners and PoS wallet holders). Instead, today’s version 2.0 model still includes folding rewards as the primary incentive to earn Curecoin, but Proof-of-Stake has moved to around 4% per annum to encourage folders to hold the coins with no additional need to use ‘mining’ to secure the blockchain.

If we’re talking about merge-folding, then that would be our partnership with Foldingcoin – where the same folding account could earn both CURE and FLDC (a counterparty asset) for the same folding computations. This is still available, and although there are questions about the future of Counterparty, FLDC may have some interesting solutions to solve the dilemma. Merge-folding was introduced to create redundancy for both science blockchains. Taking two varied approaches to rewards, on two separate blockchains, helps to ensure that our coins’ mutual legacy and value can survive adversity.

H: Currently, Curecoin is greatly assisting Folding@home in its quest for a coronavirus vaccine which is urgently needed to end the 2020 global pandemic. What is special about working on the COVID-19 infection compared to your experience with the Ebola virus epidemic in 2013-2016?

JS: [These diseases are not the same in how they are transmitted (nor in the RNA they contain): The coronavirus is a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus, while Ebola is a single-stranded negative-sense RNA virus, so how they bind inside our cells is different. The coronavirus is a respiratory disease that can be transmitted merely through breathing the same air in close proximity of an asymptomatic patient, Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever transmitted only through contact with bodily fluids of patients who are visibly ill.]

Even though the Coronaviruss fatality rates of infected individuals averages below 4% (compared to 50% for Ebola), it’s aerosolized method of transmission makes the COVID-19 potentially much deadlier on a broad scale. The good news for both infections is, there was existing data on similar diseases at the time of outbreak. Hemorrhagic fever for Ebola, and SARS for coronavirus. Folding@Home is using the SARS research they did in response to the 2003 SARS epidemic to jump-start their research.

Researchers take a three pronged approach:

  1. Find existing drug compounds that could help reduce the severity and spread.
  2. Create new anti-virals (protease inhibitors) which prevent the proliferation of the virus inside the human body AFTER infection.
  3. Create a vaccine to prevent the virus from attaching and infecting our cells in the first place.

Folding@home research has focused on all three to some degree – finding compounds that block the spike proteins from binding (vaccine) – ominously named the “Demogorgon” after the creature from “Stranger Things” that bears its resemblance). And looking at protease inhibitors (anti-virals), which, once infected, prevent the coronavirus RNA from fully maturing inside their capsids (their protective crystalline coating) – letting the immune system work on ridding our bodies of the now-inert virus bodies.

H: Are you aiming to engage as many crypto enthusiasts as possible to fight against the disease? Do you think it’s important for blockchain businesses to focus on your activity in order to accelerate their own mass adoption efforts?

JS: Yes, the idea behind CureCoin was to bring in both large scale GPU/CPU farms made for cryptocurrency mining and also the “average” user who would be using anything from an older desktop cpu to a single newer gaming rig with 1 or 2 modern CPUs. The crypto enthusiasts could make a world of difference with their larger scale computer clusters. The current Curecoin results have already proven that this is one of the best ways to accelerate research by attracting large and small scale users. If all (or even 25% for that matter) of the cryptocurrency miners in the world united to join Folding@home with us, we could potentially change modern medicine and the world as we know it.

It would help a lot in the long run for crypto businesses to help us highlight the work we are doing. Mass adoption of this system is the key to accelerating this research.

H: Except for donating unused computing power, how can crypto projects, including crypto exchanges, help Curecoin and Folding@Home? Are you seeking any other kinds of cooperation?

JS: Certainly the more listings Curecoin can get on exchanges, with diversified trading pairs could help Curecoin reach more communities within crypto who are focused on their own unique missions. We talk about this in our white paper – looking at purchasing CURE as a carbon offset which in this case, represents an act beneficial to humanity. Higher volume and increased interest encourages more people to participate in our realm of citizen science – and will result in larger amounts of computational research being accomplished. Curecoins help subsidize protein folders’ power consumption and equipment. In turn, this gives us resources to fund expansion of the project in terms of diversifying the citizen science we support and help decentralize our model for broader adoption.

Simply incorporating more citizen science projects into Curecoin in the future would increase Curecoins’ utility and encourage more people to participate in research around the world.

Getting more “low-power” folders involved in the concept is also critical. Many first time users look at the top folders list, and are discouraged to find their earnings on the Curecoin system are overshadowed by people with “means” who can dedicate a small data-center’s worth of computing power. We’ve introduced concepts like FoldingClub to help level the playing field through pooled folding. We focused it around our 501(c)3 sponsored charity The Curecoin Project, with a portion of the earnings from the FoldingClub going to prizes that include Bitcoin, Curecoin, Foldingcoin.oin, Amazon gift cards, and occasionally a nice GPU to give folks an incentive. This allowed even people with 10 year old laptops in West African nations to participate and win … and in countries where people survive on $60 dollars a month – an $80 Amazon gift card was a pretty big deal.

We were certain Curecoin could change the minds of women regarding crypto, a group disproportionately under-represented in both realms (crypto and Folding@home). Only 3% of Folding@home participants are female – and thus the same probably translates to Curecoin. Even attending a conference for women in technology at Berkeley didn’t seem to move the needle. We are really hoping to change that paradigm beyond gaining a few “likes” on social media, but at least we were able to attract one of our science contributors, who happens to be a brilliant woman.

We could definitely use one or more well-known celebrities to help promote Curecoin and Folding@home.

It would also be great if one or more scientists could help to translate the published academic papers from Folding@home into layman’s terms, thereby helping the public understand what is being accomplished… We are willing to publish these summaries on our website.

Curecoin has donated over $41,000 to charities thus far, so feel free to help out with that or the work of our all-volunteer team overhead expenses.

Our team of folders and supporters would like to thank the staff of HitBTC for your work in highlighting projects that are fighting COVID-19. Stay well.

Interview with bioinformatics contributor for CureCoin, newest project in the HitBTC ecosystem

Back at the end of March we announced the start of our COVID-19 initiative, which we launched in order to help projects looking to join in the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic. We are happy to share that we were able to interview Josh Smith from CureCoin, the first project we have integrated as part of the initiative, along with a contributing scientist and bioinformatics guru working hands on with the data at the heart of the project. The first interview we will release will be with the bioinformatics and data analyst, who will remain unnamed due to ongoing restrictions applied to the scientists partaking in this research.

CureCoin got started in 2014 as part of the Folding@home project. Folding@home is an initiative backed by Stanford University that has been using a distributed computer network to collate computing power in order to study how proteins misfold themselves. Protein misfolding is a process that occurs over time in the human body due to mutations and other changes and leads to a variety of degenerative diseases.

With everything that has been happening due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Folding@home has prioritized research related to COVID-19 in order to help better understand the disease and thereby come up with a cure.

HitBTC: How are proteinopathies similar between cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntingtons and infectious diseases – how can only a few pieces of software (GROMACS, OpenMM, etc) cover such a broad range of diseases?

Contributing Scientist: Well, for sure, all diseases can vary in strains and mutations, what we know is based on current health data of individuals suffering from those diseases. There are other diseases that could cause cancer and other infectious diseases in the long term as one individual hits a certain age. Unfortunately, many disease causes rely on unknowns on whether someone inherited it, or whether it was caused by other diseases, etc. To interpret all these causes, yes in-silico modeling can provide us with certain answers to start developing therapeutics and be able to make them safe. Cells receptors and protein binding is what we are interested in the most; on whether a cancerous cell can be killed by entering through its receptors and hitting its nucleus destroying that cell, or keeping our immune cells safe by developing blockers to deactivate foreign cells to prevent killing our cells like the T-Cells, B-Cells … (immune cells) that fight for us to kill those foreign cells. Most drug bindings are emphasized to create or design blockers or inhibitors to protect our immune cells [and let them do their job]. The study of immune cells in a silico modelling is another part of informatics that helps us understand their behaviour and molecular structure when cells enter into a stressful situation.

H: How do you foresee the huge potential in combating debilitating disorders using distributed supercomputing compared to dedicated supercomputers? (cost, availability during time sharing, etc)

CS: Well yes it’s essential to utilize all the tools necessary to understand a disease, and be able to take it to the lab running experiments that will cut cost and time since using lab equipment, reagents etc are super expensive to maintain and use.

H: Folding@home is now considered to be one of the world’s most widely distributed and fastest computing systems with a speed of approximately 1.18 exaFLOPS, or 2.36 x86 exaFLOPS, allowing it to fold several proteins in the 1.5 millisecond time range. How does this compare to experimental crystallography methods of the past?

CS: This part is more for a chemist or biochemist that is using “experimental crystallography methods”. [From my experience] when developing a certain molecule, we use radiation to break bonds and to determine potency we used radioactive Iodine-125 bioassays and similar compounds – so YES having a computer modelling allows us to see the molecules folding and predict how to target those receptors better [without the need for costly, often inaccurate chemical experiments early on].

H: What is a k-factor in protein folding dynamics and molecular simulations – the factor that is used in determining Points awarded to protein folders on Folding@home?

CS: K-factor is part of what determines the PPD point value of a Folding@home Work Unit (WU). Based on Folding@home’s description, many factors go into determining a WU’s value. The kinematic and thermodynamics variables that induce difficulty in protein folding, and the scientific value resulting from a successful simulation of that molecule’s structure. Traditionally, chemists have done this all day. Dangerously! Bravo to them, and bravo for them risking their lives in those research labs! That’s one of the biggest value-adds to research in-silico simulations. [The Urey-Miller Ab initio nanoreactor experiment perhaps shows this most clearly (see also Carl Sagan on Cosmos). In 1952, scientists basically tried to create life in a jar, simulating conditions (through many permutations) that were found on earth before life arose. They were able to find some organic compounds, but the experiment was limited by equipment funding and dedicated lab time. In 2014, Folding@home was able to take the same experiment, and run it virtually on Folding@home software through thousands of permutations. They were able to find 600 unique organic compounds never seen on earth today – similar to the compounds we are just beginning to uncover hidden deep inside meteorites. It’s not “life” as we know it, but it represents life’s fundamental building blocks].

H: What novel methods do Folding@home researchers utilize to statistically analyse the dynamics of protein folding? AI is used to both generate the initial folding model, AND to analyse all the data generated by the protein folders. Why are Markov state models the preferred method for analyzing protein models?

CS: Yes, in-silico modeling is what everyone looks at first [in the FDA drug approval process] – which is essential these days. Markov modelling provides a robust understanding of specific clusters that are grouped in certain strains, mutations, or any specific characteristic that could be unknown. Markvov works well by giving a great amount of data already from that specific mRNA, cell type, receptors (e.g., ion channels), or other to classify each one as one group based on certain characteristics or variables as an identifier… depending on what you are trying to accomplish obviously, the algorithms can be tailored to characterize each given molecule.

H: As the available computational power now exceeds 1 exaflop — faster than some of the world’s top supercomputers — what kind of exploration can be done at this level? Can you explore Ion channels, protein folding time scales, etc?

CS: As more computational power we have available through distributed computing, the more “super complex systems” (like ion channels) can be explored in ways not possible less than a decade ago. Understandably, humans have the most studied, yet most complex metabolisms, and immune systems. Thus to fight diseases requires an extraordinary amount of computational power. [Even with all the available power, we are decades away from being able to fully simulate entire organs, let alone an entire human being].

H: How does the COVID-19 research compare with the Ebola virus epidemic in 2013-2016? Could you discuss the different types of viruses (positive-strand vs negative-strand RNA) and their means of transmission?

CS: These diseases are neither the same in how they are transmitted nor in the RNA they contain (a coronavirus is a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus, while Ebola is a single-stranded negative-sense RNA virus, so how they bind inside our cells is different). Coronavirus is a respiratory disease that can be transmitted merely through breathing the same air in close proximity of an asymptomatic patient, Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever transmitted only through contact with bodily fluids of patients who are visibly ill.

While CureCoin is the first project we have integrated via our initiative, we hope to add more projects that are trying to make a meaningful impact in the fight against the virus. In the meantime, we hope you find the interviews informative.

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